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  March/April 2006
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Sierra Magazine
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One Small Step: Making Victoria Blush
Interview by Orli Cotel


Liz Butler San Francisco, California
Organizing director, ForestEthics, age 33

"Canada's boreal forest is the largest expanse of wildlands in North America, and it's being logged at an alarming rate. We found out this endangered forest is being ground up to make mail-order catalogs. Fifty-nine billion catalogs go out every year in the United States, and 95 percent are immediately thrown away!

"One of the companies we were most concerned about was Victoria's Secret because it sends out a million catalogs every single day, more than any other business we know of.

"So we set up a Web site, Victoria's Dirty Secret, and called for a day of action in front of its stores across the country. Instead of your typical protest rally, people were wearing lingerie and angel wings--but holding chainsaws. "We ran a full-page ad in the New York Times with a woman dressed like a Victoria's Secret model with a chainsaw. The ad got a lot of attention and even a spot on the Today show.

"Since we've started, Victoria's Secret has begun meeting with us on a regular basis--one day we're protesting out in front, and the next we're in the boardrooms. With corporate campaigns, you can make really big changes very fast. Victoria's Secret took a step in the right direction and put its discount catalogs, 24 million a year, on postconsumer recycled paper. To us, that meant two things: The company is hearing our message, and what we are asking it to do is possible. We said, 'It's great about the 24 million, but what about the rest?'

"As we pressure Victoria's Secret, other catalog companies are watching what it does. We want companies competing to be the greenest."

BIG SAVINGS
If the catalog industry switched to paper with 10 percent postconsumer recycled content, it would save 851,000 tons of wood annually--enough to build a six-foot fence across the United States seven times.

ON THE WEB
For more on the Victoria's Dirty Secret campaign, go to forestethics.org or victoriasdirtysecret.net.


Photo by Cade Martin; used with permission

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